The intentions with which hands-on simulations are used in vocational education are not always clear. Also, pedagogical-didactic approaches in hands-on simulations are not well conceptualised from a learning theory perspective. This makes it difficult to pinpoint the added value that hands-on simulations can have in an innovative vocational curriculum that not only aims at developing technical and procedural skills, but also at developing competencies and professional identity. This paper introduces a more explicit conceptual discussion regarding the opportunities for using hands-on simulations in innovative curricula. A systematic literature review aimed at positioning hands-on simulations in relation to other work-related contexts, based on their learning environment characteristics and outcomes, shows that certain constructivist characteristics and outcomes are underexposed in empirical research about simulations. The results of an additional in-depth analysis of literature specifically focusing on two fundamental characteristics of constructive vocational learning (i.e. authenticity and increasing students’ ownership) propose ideas about how hands-on simulations can have added value to innovative curricula. This paper concludes with concrete strategies for designing and implementing hands-on simulations from the social constructive learning theory with the aim of stimulating not only technical and procedural skills, but also competencies and professional identity.
Khaled, A. E., Gulikers, J. T. M., Biemans, H. J. A., van der Wel, M., & Mulder, M. (2014). Characteristics of hands-on simulations with added value for innovative secondary and higher vocational education. Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 66(4), 462-490. https://doi.org/10.1080/13636820.2014.917696